Category Archives: Parenting

Happy 3rd Birthday, Beautiful, Precious Hannah…All God’s Blessings!!

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This was written by our Children’s Pastor…

My good friend, Marla…

About her daughter, Hannah’s birth…

Praying it blesses you!

Hannah’s Arrival

An awesome story of God working in our lives. –Marla-
“Hon…”

I called out to my sleeping husband. 

No response. 

“Hey, hon…”

I called a little louder.

“Huh?  Everything okay?”

he asked groggily.

“Ummm…yeah, everything’s fine.  Could you come here?” 

He stumbled into the bathroom. 

“What is it?”

“I’m not positive, but I think my water just broke.”

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This is not what either one of us was expecting.  It was 4:30 AM on June 2.  Our baby girl wasn’t due for just over another month. Sure, I had felt like she may come “early,” but not this soon!  The nursery was still a glorified storage room.   Hannah’s baby shower was not scheduled for another 3 days.  We had no clothes for her, no diapers, not even a car seat to take her home!  All of those little things we were going to complete in the next few weeks were left undone.  But there was no time to do any of that now.  We scrambled around, made arrangements for Moriah, our older daughter, finished packing for the hospital and we were on our way.

Several weeks earlier I began asking God to give me a verse to meditate on through childbirth and in those often-difficult weeks after, when I knew our lives would be changed forever and we’d be navigating through the familiar but somehow distant waters of caring for a newborn and adjusting to a completely different lifestyle on little—if any—sleep.  I expected that completely changing our schedule and routine, then going back to work, would require extra strength and a greater measure of peace from God.  So I simply made my request known to God for a verse to cling to, maybe something along the lines of “I can do all things through Christ…”  I thought about different verses, but nothing clicked.  Then one evening a passage came to me very distinctly:

 …there was given me a thorn in my flesh,

a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 

But he said to me,

“My grace is sufficient for you,

for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,

so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 

That is why, for Christ’s sake,

delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. 

For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

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 I read the passage again and thought, “Yeah, having a newborn and adjusting is a bit difficult, but I would hardly refer to it as a ‘thorn in the flesh.’  Sounds a bit harsh.”  But I knew that this was the passage God gave me, so for several nights before Hannah’s birth, I read it again and again.

Once at the hospital, the nurses confirmed that I was indeed in labor and were very sure to tell us that we were having a baby that day.  We were both in shock.  Nonetheless, she was on her way.  A few hours later, at 10:15 AM, we heard the long awaited cries of our little girl.  Due to last minute medications during labor, I was unfortunately quite groggy the first few hours of Hannah’s life.  I held her and looked at her, but failed to pick up on the little details of her appearance.  I could hardly hear the nurses’ comments as they evaluated her.  I remember one nurse asking, “Does she look like your other daughter?”  And I answered that no, she had her own distinct look.

A few hours later, as I was trying to recover, the pediatrician came in the room and brought the news that changed us forever.  He gently told me that they suspected Hannah has Down Syndrome based upon her features and her weak muscle tone.  I was in shock.  Down Syndrome?  We had no idea.  We never imagined we’d be the family with a special needs child.

When Eddie came back to the room, I shared the Doctor’s report with him.  Thoughts came rushing through our minds.  Tears flowed.  Our joy was overshadowed by grief and fear of the future.  She’ll never be like other kids.  She’ll be made fun of.  She won’t go to a typical school, have a normal social life, go to college or get married.  Hannah will always be dependent upon us.  What will happen when we’re too old to take care of her?

Since then, I’ve thought a lot about those irrational fears.  What child comes with a certificate guaranteeing that she will live a successful life, go to college, get married and be independent anyway?  I’ve never seen that certain promise at birth yet.  Our responsibility as parents is simply to give our kids our best in way of care, training, and teaching and to raise them to know and love God.  We simply encourage them to be all they were created to be.

Family came to visit and see her.  More tears.  More feeling of loss of all the little things we had planned for our child.  Wave after wave of grief followed.

It wasn’t until later that evening that I remembered the verse and certain promise God had given me several days earlier:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

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     “Oh, God, I’ve never felt weaker in my life.  I need your strength, your grace,” I prayed through the tears.

 Sleep came sporadically that night.  I was able to visit Hannah in the NICU just a few times before I was discharged the next day.  They had to keep Hannah due to complications arising from her prematurity.  Leaving the hospital without a baby was somehow just not right.  (And in the weeks to follow, leaving her each day left me feeling like I was never home.  Wherever I was—whether with her at the hospital or home with the rest of the family—I was never complete.)  When I walked out of the hospital the day after her birth, my heart was still heavy with the news of her diagnosis.  I was thankful to have her, but somehow still grieving all the dreams I had for her that would never be realized.

Late that evening, I found myself the only one awake in a quiet house.  Seemingly out of nowhere I felt a sudden urge to read the verses God had given me, but in the Message version of the Bible.  I don’t often turn to the Message version, but I appreciate its plain, everyday language and way of putting God’s Word into a fresh perspective.  As I opened to the passage, I was amazed at the wording:

     I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. 

Satan’s angel did his best to get me down;

what he in fact did was push me to my knees…

At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. 

Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough;

it’s all you need. 

My strength comes into its own in your weakness. 

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. 

I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. 

It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. 

Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer…

I just let Christ take over! 

And so the weaker I get,

the stronger I become.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (the Message version, emphasis added)

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That instant, I had peace about Hannah’s diagnosis.  I knew that her unique and special qualities had been given as a gift, and I should see them as nothing less.

A few days after her birth, I was holding Hannah in her NICU room when the thought occurred to me: I didn’t even know what her name means—I, of all people, who usually obsess over things like this.  I, the mother who long before Moriah’s arrival had researched her name and written a poem based upon it’s meaning, could not even think of the meaning of my youngest daughter’s name.  A few months before, Eddie and I had deliberated quite a bit over what to name her, and finally agreed that Hannah was perfect.  I’m sure in the process I had looked at the meaning.  But sitting in the hospital room with her, I was in shock that I could not recall something so important.  With her in my arms, I managed to get a hand free and search for the name on my phone.  When the results came up, I was in awe.

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Hannah means “grace.”

“My grace is sufficient for you…”  God had promised.

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Whatever the future holds, for every unknown challenge on the road before us, so long as I call Hannah’s name I will have a reminder of God’s promise ever before me.  His grace will be enough to meet every challenge.  His grace will carry us through the frustrations and strengthen our faith in times of uncertainty.  His grace will flow through us and enable us to show grace to those who show ignorance or even cruelty toward her.

And God’s grace will pour out joy upon us as we delight in Hannah’s adorable smile and melt in her hugs.  His grace will sing over us as we cheer her on and take pride in her accomplishments. 

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Most of all, His grace will enable us to fully enjoy the precious gift of our sweet Hannah.
Amen!!

 

Grief…Are You In The Club???

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Psalm 34:18

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted   

and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

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My friend, Amy, recently lost her 10-year old son, Kaleb…

She and her daughter, Kyrsten…

Are grieving…

Perhaps you know how she feels…

Perhaps you can pray for them…

Perhaps her words can help you…

Grief….

“We have to learn much along the way…

Before we can move through the process…

We must learn patience…

The value of change…

The beauty of simplicity…

The importance of laughter…

The life-sustaining strength of relationships…

And the joy of spontaneity and adventure…

The membership requirements of the club…

Are anything but enviable…

You have to have felt the floor dropping out…

And the sky falling in…

All in one awful, unthinkable day…

You have to wonder whether you would be able to figure out…

Which shoe to put on which foot…

And then wonder why you should bother anyway…

You find out that you have survived…

Like others…

But, you only have survived as changed people…

There’s no going back…

Grief…

Of this magnitude…

Changes you….”

Matthew 5:4

“Blessed are those who mourn,   

for they will be comforted.”

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Romans 12:15

“Rejoice with those who rejoice;

mourn with those who mourn.”

Amen!

Gracious Heavenly Father…

Wrap Your Loving Arms…

Around Amy, Kyrsten…

and all who grieve…

‘Til they can be with You…

In Heaven…

To again see their loved ones there!

MOM Upside Down Is WOW!!

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Have a Happy and Blessed Mom’s Day!!

This made you laugh!!

Perfection, right???

Now…

Go tell your kids to clean their rooms…

And eat their vegetables!!

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Happy Mother’s Day!

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Psalm 127: 3

“Children are a heritage from the Lord…”

Amen!

What Hoops Are You Jumpin’ Through???

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Words From a Father to His Daughter

(From the Makeup Aisle)

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Reblogged from:  http://drkellyflanagan.com/?s=makeup+aisle&submit=Search

Dear Little One,

As I write this, I’m sitting in the makeup aisle of our local Target store. A friend recently texted me from a different makeup aisle and told me it felt like one of the most oppressive places in the world. I wanted to find out what he meant. And now that I’m sitting here, I’m beginning to agree with him. Words have power, and the words on display in this aisle have a deep power. Words and phrases like:

Affordably gorgeous,

Infallible,

Flawless finish,

Brilliant strength,

Liquid power,

Go nude,

Age defying,

Instant age rewind,

Choose your dream,

Nearly naked, and

Natural beauty.

When you have a daughter you start to realize she’s just as strong as everyone else in the house—a force to be reckoned with, a soul on fire with the same life and gifts and passions as any man. But sitting in this store aisle, you also begin to realize most people won’t see her that way. They’ll see her as a pretty face and a body to enjoy. And they’ll tell her she has to look a certain way to have any worth or influence.

But words do have power and maybe, just maybe, the words of a father can begin to compete with the words of the world. Maybe a father’s words can deliver his daughter through this gauntlet of institutionalized shame and into a deep, unshakeable sense of her own worthiness and beauty.

A father’s words aren’t different words, but they are words with a radically different meaning:

Brilliant strength. May your strength be not in your fingernails but in your heart. May you discern in your center who you are, and then may you fearfully but tenaciously live it out in the world.

Choose your dream. But not from a department store shelf. Find the still-quiet place within you. A real dream has been planted there. Discover what you want to do in the world. And when you have chosen, may you faithfully pursue it, with integrity and with hope.

Naked. The world wants you to take your clothes off. Please keep them on. But take your gloves off. Pull no punches. Say what is in your heart. Be vulnerable. Embrace risk. Love a world that barely knows what it means to love itself. Do so nakedly. Openly. With abandon.

Infallible. May you be constantly, infallibly aware that infallibility doesn’t exist. It’s an illusion created by people interested in your wallet. If you choose to seek perfection, may it be in an infallible grace—for yourself, and for everyone around you.

Age defying. Your skin will wrinkle and your youth will fade, but your soul is ageless. It will always know how to play and how to enjoy and how to revel in this one-chance life. May you always defiantly resist the aging of your spirit.

Flawless finish. Your finish has nothing to do with how your face looks today and everything to do with how your life looks on your last day. May your years be a preparation for that day. May you be aged by grace, may you grow in wisdom, and may your love become big enough to embrace all people. May your flawless finish be a peaceful embrace of the end and the unknown that follows, and may it thus be a gift to everyone who cherishes you.

Little One, you love everything pink and frilly and I will surely understand if someday makeup is important to you. But I pray three words will remain more important to you—the last three words you say every night, when I ask the question: “Where are you the most beautiful?” Three words so bright no concealer can cover them.

Where are you the most beautiful?

On the inside.

From my heart to yours,

Daddy

Like the last letter I wrote to my daughter, I wrote this first for her and the day I’ll eventually read it to her. But I also wrote it for every woman who needs to hear the words of a father. Women, no one else can define your beauty for you. But they’ll try.

My daughter is four years-old now. If her awakening to the makeup aisle comes at the typical age, I figure we have about five years to radically alter the arc of history and the subjugation-by-image of the female gender. We’ve got a lot of work to do. And it begins in the heart of each and every woman.

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Next Post: “The Key to a Man’s Heart (and Why He Gets Road Rage)”

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Disclaimer: My writings represent a combination of my own personal opinions and my professional experiences, but they do not reflect professional advice. Interaction with me via the blog does not constitute a professional therapeutic relationship. For professional and customized advice, you should seek the services of a counselor who can dedicate the hours necessary to become more intimately familiar with your specific situation. I do not assume liability for any portion or content of material on the blog and accept no liability for damage or injury resulting from your decision to interact with the website.

Kelly is a licensed clinical psychologist, practicing at Alliance Clinical Associates in Wheaton, IL. He is also a writer and blogs regularly about the redemption of our personal, relational, and communal lives. Kelly is married, has three children, and enjoys learning from them how to be a kid again. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

I agree…

So does God!!

This Is How It Is!!

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E-mail from me:  (to our Pastor’s wife, who heads up our Kids Church) 

“Thanks, Pam, for the Christmas treats you left in Kids Church for Casey & me!! 

We found them today!!

Chocolate for me…Yum!  Yum!!

And I must say, you really do know what my son loves!!

 

PEZ!!!

 

We came to the church to organize the Drama Team Christmas stuff…

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And he starts playing with, and eating, the PEZ…

 

Wondering how to get all of the candy into the dispenser without them all falling out!!

 

Really?

 

‘Mom, do you know how to fill the dispenser?’

 

Something about unwrap slightly…

 

Then hold the paper around it ’til it goes in the dispenser???

 

I don’t know…

 

If I did know…

 

I certainly don’t remember…

 

Does he know how long…

 

How really long…

 

It’s been since anyone has even remotely asked me to fill a PEZ dispenser???

 

He was so intense..

 

So focused on the dispenser…

 

On the candy…

 

And on how hard it was to get the candy in the dispenser…

 

So he could eat it!!

 

Why not cheat…

 

And just gobble it up sans dispenser???

 

No fun in that, huh?

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We had one hour ’til he had to leave for rehearsal…

 

Needless to say…

 

We didn’t get done!!

 

Oh, he was helpful setting up tables…

 

And moving boxes for me…

 

But we could have gotten the whole job completed…

 

If he was focused on what I needed done…

 

Instead of that great gift of PEZ you got him!!!

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Thanks Miss Pam!!

 

Ha!!  Just teasing…

 

Thanks!  We love you!!”

 

This kid of mine is 23…

 

Now you all know why he’s so good at Improv!!

http://stage2improv.net/

 

I love him!!!

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Family Christmas Photos!!

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Hey Everyone!

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Merry Christmas!

Welcome to our home!!

We’ll be in Longboat Key at the beach for Christmas to relax…

It’s been a busy “work/school/drama team, etc.” year so far!!

Here are some photos of Casey as Santa in our Christmas drama on Sunday at our church!!

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He’s not in the “Ho!  Ho! Ho!  Jolly Santa” character, yet!
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Oh, that’s better!!  Ha!

 

He had to learn the real meaning of Christmas…

 

Through the song…

“This Is Christmas”

By Kutless

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What is Christmas?!?”

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It’s all about a Savior wrapped in a manger!!

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What is Christmas??? 

Without Christ??

Also, some photos of our Pre-Christmas Italian Dinner…

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Hubby stirring the huge pot of sauce, meatballs, and boiled eggs I made!!

Yes, boiled eggs!

My Mom put everything in our sauce!!

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Yum!!!

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Dig in!!!

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And…add lots of Parmesan/Romano Cheese!!!

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Come on in and join us!!

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Don’t forget the Crazy Siberian!!!!

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Since we’ll be away on Christmas Day…

We opened presents early!!

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When did sneakers become toys?!?!

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Let’s read the Christmas story!!!

Luke 2

“…For unto you is born this day in the city of David

a Saviour,

which is Christ the Lord.

 And this shall be a sign unto you;

Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel

a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth Peace, Good Will toward men…

 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds…

 And the shepherds returned, glorifying

and praising God

for all the things that they had heard and seen,

as it was told unto them….”

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The doggie wants to hear, too!!!

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Praying you and your family have a…

 

 

Very Blessed and Merry Christmas

 

 

And a…

 

 

Healthy and Happy New Year!!

 

 

Love!  Love!  Love!!

 

 

God Bless!!

 

 

From All Of Us!!

 

 

From Our House to Yours!

 

 

Love, Mom, Dad, Son, Dog, and Snake!!!

 

Amen!

Here’s Looking At You, “Kidd!” – In Memory Of Justin Kidd…

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I sat outside on my lanai…

With my cup of coffee on a bright sunny day last week…

Reading through some old Pentecostal Evangel magazines…

I have ready outside for just such an opportunity to sit and relax!

I came across an article about “Dave and Robin Kidd, who pastor True North Church (Assemblies of God) in Minerva, Ohio, and offer marriage seminars through their Binding Hearts Marriage and Family Ministries.  The Kidd family suffered the destruction of their home to a fire on the night of April 27, 2013.   Their son, Justin, 20, was unable to get out of his basement bedroom, and perished in the fire. The Kidds have continued in ministry during the months following Justin’s death, and reflect this Thanksgiving on the blessing of his life.”

To read the entire interview with

Scott Harrup, Pentecostal Evangel managing editor…

Go to:

http://www.pe.ag.org/archives/connections.cfm

Oh, my heart broke for them…

I have a 23 year-old son…

  I can’t even begin to imagine such a thing…

I prayed, Lord, please comfort them…

Then, I noticed that his parents mentioned…

 He had a blog on WordPress…

And that it was very popular with his youth group…

As I read his posts…

I, first of all, felt the love he had as a youth pastor…

And I was so amazed at the spiritual maturity of this 20 year-old!

(Please check out his entire blog and pray for his family)

http://justinkidder.wordpress.com/

For instance…

I reblogged an awesome post by Reality of Christ last June…

Debunking the lie that God won’t give us more than we can handle!

https://godssceneryandpromises.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/debunked-god-wont-give-us-more-than-we-can-handle/?preview=true&preview_id=7942&preview_nonce=2bf23c0624&post_format=standard

And Justin had posted the same topic to his youth group!

It caught my attention, because…

I had just counseled one of our young adults on the same subject!

God gives us more than we can handle…

God asks us to do difficult things…

But, we aren’t expected to do them alone…

We’re expected to depend on Him and not on our own understanding!!

Here’s

Justin’s Post of Apr. 18, 2013

Can You Handle?

One of the most common things you will hear people say is simply this: “God Will Not Give You More Than You Can Handle.” Seriously…I have lost count of how many times I have heard this said. Not only have I heard it numerous times, I am also guilty of saying this myself over the years…But here is the thing..It actually is another one of the lies that we buy..Before I started studying the word of god, and actually getting to know him better over the last year I have learned that this is actually in fact false.

This Statement, is actually misquoted scripture coming from 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says simply this:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be TEMPTED beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

Saying that God will not give you more than you can handle, and saying he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, IS NOT THE SAME! Temptation is not circumstances..they are separate. You will be tempted and Tested in life, but as it says with the temptation will come a way out so you can endure the temptation, but he didn’t say he wouldn’t give us problems we couldn’t handle. This is why so many people misquote this scripture.

I in fact now believe the opposite. God does in fact give us more than we can handle. This is for the sole purpose of our need for his divine intervention. We alone can not handle..but with his help we can. That is why he allows test/trials.

Yes the saying God won’t give you more than you can handle sounds good..but here is the catch…just because something sounds good…doesn’t mean its true or biblical. There are plenty of things out there in the world that people will tell you that sounds great, but as I said, that doesn’t mean it is true.

I in fact now believe the opposite. God does in fact give us more than we can handle. This is for the sole purpose of our need for his divine intervention. We alone can not handle..but with his help we can. That is why he allows test/trials.

So what is my challenge to my readers this week?

Before believing anything you hear, go to gods word first. As I already said, just because it sounds good, that doesn’t mean it is true. CHECK IT!

This is a new thing that is new to my youth, since this is what I preached last night, but I have been doubting myself and this message since last night, and just now my Aunt turned on a movie, and it just had a scene that I caught and in the scene this message was just taught by the pastor in the movie, so to me this was a confirmation that this is what was to be shared. And for that I thank god for. I needed that myself.

I just loved his passion for God…

 For God’s Word…

And for the youth he worked with!

Here’s another one of his posts…

Perfectly Broken

An excerpt from Justin’s post on March 28th, 2013:

1.) If we think we are perfect, we simply are not real and we are empty.

2.) We are perfect at one thing…..being broken!

3.) We are imperfect and broken people being brought back together by the Perfect God!

4.) The sooner we stop trying to achieve the perfect life, the sooner we can start focusing on things that matter more, and do greater and better things!

Rest in God’s Peace, Justin…

You truly left a legacy of trust in God’s Word!

Amen!